International Women’s Day – 8th March
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
For me it is a day to reflect on amazing women who have paved and are paving the way for us to be able to work and exist knowing that the only limitations we have are only ourselves and not our gender. It also makes me very aware that only 100 years ago we were only just beginning to have basic equal rights such as voting.
Which women are you inspired by? Do you design around a specific woman?
I am inspired by all women who live their lives as they want and by their choice. I am aware however, this often is a luxury not everyone has. I do not design around a specific woman, I design around the spirit of dynamic women.
What does it mean to be a woman in design today?
Once upon a time, if a woman wore a beautiful expensive item of clothing, it most likely would have been designed by a man. Take for example, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Rente, Jean Paul Gautier, Balenciaga, Ferragamo, Pucci, Pierre Cardin, Lacroix, Charles Worth…the list is endless. All of these names are synonymous with female style. These designers have been followed by McQueen, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Marc Jacobs and many more hugely talented men. However, for me, what is truly interesting being a female designer today is how many women are emerging to reclaim these positions.
It is an unusual and exciting time, which is also highly topical as it coincides with the push for sexual equality with campaigns such as TimesUp, #MeToo and Women’s March. Ironically although men spearheaded fashion houses in the past, fashion has always been an overwhelmingly female passion.
The vast majority of people who work in fashion or study fashion are women, and yet it is only comparatively recently that women have become acknowledged in their own right as head/lead designers of fashion houses. A few women such as Coco Chanel, Vivienne Westwood or Donna Karan broke that mould, and yet even Chanel has been closely associated with Karl Lagerfeld for many decades.
For me, being a female designer in today’s world, means creating pieces for women from a female perspective. Designing products that are truly inclusive for women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. Showing people that the misconceived perception that only men know how to dress a woman is not true. Women who can succeed in this area, rise to the top without losing their authenticity and feminine values in the process, are principals I admire, and being able to reinforce this path for women is a constant source of joy.
We often refer to inspirational women as icons – how would you personally define an icon and who are yours?
For me an icon is anybody who has done great things in their field. Examples of are: Simone De Beauvoir, Katharine Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Emmeline Pankhurst, Billie Jean King.
How will Paolita be supporting IWD?
We will be donating 20% of sales from the 8th March 2018 to Refuge.Org.uk.
Now, more than ever, there is a strong desire to progress forward with gender parity – how do you believe we can achieve this? What steps do you think are necessary?
I believe in creating a healthy dialogue that will help try to solve the fundamental reasons these parities exist. It is an extremely complicated and multilayered problem to solve, but I am hoping that we don’t take any steps backwards and we keep going forward with this. So long as it is something that is being constantly highlighted in both the workplace and media, then it will become the norm, rather than become something that is simply brushed under the carpet and forgotten about. Investigative journalists can do a lot for this, as can female bosses, teachers, campaigners, politicians and women in the public eye such as musicians, actors and designers. A collaborative conversation that creates enough noise to capture everyone’s attention, men, women and children alike, will keep the question of gender parity on the table.